"Historic opportunity"

Niger urged by rights group to abolish death penalty in new constitution

Niger has a "historic opportunity" to abolish the death penalty in a new constitution that will be voted on in a referendum next month, Amnesty International said.

The measure is "essential" for the consolidation and restoration of the rule of law in the West African country following a coup in February, the London-based human-rights group said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

A Nigerien council established to review the constitution last month adopted a draft of the document that includes more than 130 amendments, including amnesty for the perpetrators of the Feb. 18 coup.

Niger will hold a vote in January to elect a successor to President Mamadou Tandja, who ruled the country for 10 years before being deposed in the coup. The leader of the junta, General Djibo Salou, in March barred military personnel from running as candidates.

(Published by Bloomberg - September 2, 2010)

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